With Facebook friends scaling past a quarter-million and a YouTube account that has attracted over 15,000 views since January 21, the Iranian TV show, Parazit is using social media channels to promote its answer to Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. Co-created by Iranian ex-pats Kambiz Hosseini and Saman Arbabi, the popular Voice of America's Persian-language program is produced in Washington, DC, where the founders can lampoon their parent country, without fear of reprisal.
Kambiz Hosseini, Saman Arbabi & Jon StewartParazit, with its satirical look at Iranian politics and politicians has been compared to Comedy Central's The Daily Show, and Stewart noted that he was "honored and pleased" to have the Parazit founders as guests on his show recently. In turn, Hosseini and Arbabi responded in their typical comedic style, proclaiming Jon Stewart their "prophet."
According to VOA report, the Parazit team have created a large following since the show began as a 10-minute weekly segment in 2008, partially due to its massive following on Facebook. It now airs for 30 minutes every Friday and is sent by satellite directly to Iranian homes. The weekly show now routinely records about 500,000 impressions after each new episode is posted to its Facebook page. Many viewers also watch the show on satellite dishes, which are illegal in Iran.
Parazit, which is defined as "static" in English is a fast-paced delivery of Iranian news that skewers its leaders as "Big Brothers" who have imposed severe censorship restrictions in Iran. An independent analyst hired by VOA to critique the program said its "sheer genius" is making the host, Mr. Hosseini a household name in Iran.
The topics covered ridicule the Iranian government often for their hypocrisy. One such story dealt with the Iranian government promising to award a free apartment to any athlete who brought home a gold medal from the Asian Games in November. But when a woman won the gold for 'wushu,' a Chinese martial arts event, they reneged, saying she had to be married to get the apartment.
Kambiz Hosseini & Saman ArbabiHosseini and Arbabi said the Iranian authorities - who are not happy with how Parazit has grown in popularity as an underground phenomenon - have actually launched and "anti-Parazit" show to counter its growing influence. And while the commentators deliver their lines similar to Hosseini and Arbabi, the Parazit co-creators were quick to point out, "while they talk like (us), they're not funny."
For all who remember, both Twitter and Facebook were accessible from the streets of Iran during the Iranian Election protests in 2009. And while many U.S. citizens were actively involved with their social networks communicating about this historical event, when this period of history faded from the news, it also seemed to be forgotten in the States.
Thankfully for Parazit, there is now an opportunity for Iranian news to be available on a weekly basis, albeit from a satirical point of view. After all, you've got to laugh at their critique of Iranian president Ahmadinejad who according to Hosseini and Arbabi is "losing his edge" and could stand to hire "a few new writers."